The story of this fly involves a hard-to-find run on an easy-to-find river, a snowstorm, and an old park ranger with shaky hands.
In this installment of Icons, we visit with Marty Howardas he talks about his literary plans with fellow rockstars Dec Hogan and Brian Silvey, and whether or not the fly you choose really matters.
George Grant and Franz Pott were the best-known tiers of the woven-hackle fly with their Featherbacks, Black Creepers, Fizzles, and Sandy Mites.
To me, the real magic happened in places like the Shilo Inn convention center and old fly shops with the smell of coffee and moth-balls etched into the wood paneling, or pretty much anywhere an old timer has hot coffee, a hidden flask and time to tell you about the days gone by.
The Greenwells Glory is an old fly with a storied history. I won’t repeat that history here, as you can easily find it yourself. However, I can attest that it catches just as many fish now as it did in 1854 (the supposed year of its creation)
With a famously eclectic vocabulary, a contagious full-belly laugh and a cache of body language to match his love of high volume jazz, Clark Lucas is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic characters in the spey fishing and fly tying universe.
While other anglers are fumbling in the parking lot with size 24 flies on 6x drop-shot rigs, the swung fly angler can tie on a single size 18 fly to a gargantuan 4x leader and still have plenty of time to sit on the bank and drink coffee before the hatch begins.
There is no single correct way to hackle a wee fly, and there are a handful of ways to get the job done, but hackling is important to the proper construction. And some ways are better than others. Following is the most effective method of hackling I’ve found.
The Mojo Sculpin earned its name and a permanent place in the box the past couple seasons, turning the trick on early spring pre-spawn rainbows and also accounting for some nice brown trout. The hackle-head design works well to simulate the sculpin profile while providing a natural color blend and much breath and pulse, creating the illusion of mass, without bulk. Sinks quicker than a clipped deer hair muddler head.
Prior to the writings of G.E.M Skues emphasizing the importance of the nymph, most of the old English wetflies and Yorkshire spiders were dressed to simulate the adult phase of waterborn naturals, a phase that, at times, can be more important than the nymph, particularly with larger insects like green drake, October caddis, or the larger stonefly species producing seasonal emergences and a lot of adults accumulating through the hatch season.
In the West, skwala stoneflies signal the beginning of the year’s parade of water-born insects and are a real opportunity for hatch-matching while there is still snow on the ground.
There are many commercially made shanks available, but customizing mine by cutting the shank to the right length proved to be a huge benefit when designing winter steelhead flies that are easy to cast and effective at getting into the zone quickly.